An interview with Bjorn Lomborg....
I like Lomborg a lot...
TL: What in your opinion is a safe level of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere?
BL: The safe level, if there was no consideration of cost, would be pre-industrial levels. But you can’t talk about safe levels without talking about cost.
Traffic accidents are the second biggest killer worldwide. More than one million entirely man-made and preventable deaths. We could cut them all by cutting car speed limits to 5 Mph. But we are not going to do that because people would rather get home quicker and then kill some people. You don’t want to say it that way but that is the effect of what we’re deciding.
We don’t have the discussion about safe levels of traffic speeds without talking about the downside of the debate. We need that discussion on climate. How much are the economic models telling us it will cost to cut back and how much for not cutting back?
TL: So what is your solution?
BL: The problem we are seeing with global warming is that everyone has been saying for the last 18 years that we need to cut carbon emissions. Right now we are not succeeding because it costs too much and the benefits are not going to felt until 100 years from now.
So instead of trying to put expensive solar panels up that look good but don’t achieve much we should be focused on trying to make solar panels much cheaper.
If we could make them cheaper than fossil fuels by say 2040 we would have solved global warming because everyone; the Chinese, Indians would buy them not because they are green but because they are cheaper.
My point is that instead of trying to cut [emissions] directly - which economically seems a poor strategy and politically seems infeasible - a much better idea is to invest in research and development. By making green energy cheaper in the long run you will end up cutting much much more carbon emissions.